Shorts Round Up of the Week: The Fantastic Shorts of Fantastic Fest 2019 [Fantastic Fest 2019]

Fantastic Fest 2019 has come and gone once again and we were lucky enough to take in some of their line up from this year’s festivities. There was some damn good short films at the fest this year, and we thought we’d spotlight the line up that played as “Fantastic Shorts,” “Short Fuse,” and were “Paired Shorts” with feature films in the festival. The festival had no shortage of genre shorts; if you’re ever near a film festival or are attending one, be sure to look out for these titles.

3 Days (2019)
Julie Sharbutt’s horror short is a wonderful testament to the inherent dangers that lurk around every corner for women in the world, and sadly how they can never seem to find enough peace. “3 Days” focuses on a trio of young women camping in the wilderness that are having a hard time sleeping thanks to noises in the woods. When the noises become more frequent, one of the campers feels compelled to make a run for it. “3 Days” relies a lot on ambiguity and leaving it up to us to interpret. Are these women in immediate danger or are they just being paranoid? Don’t they have reason to be paranoid in the middle of nowhere? With wonderfully nightmarish direction and a final scene that’ll leave many viewers debating, “3 Days” is an unnerving genre entry worth looking out for on the festival circuit.

9:40 (2018)
Jorge Morrell’s entry is a mind fuck of a film that’s reminiscent of a “Tales from the Darkside” episode. Kristyan Ferrer is a young man with anxiety over traveling after he hears the news of a bus crash near the local bus station. When he boards his bus, his anxiety begins to peak and his terror grows with every moment he’s enveloped in the massive bus. “9:40” is a wonderful and bizarre short horror film with excellent direction by Morrell who plays beautifully off of the absolutely weird circumstances. Despite the twist being telegraphed in the opener, “9:40” excels on the great direction, haunting visuals, and creepy final scene.

Base Camp (2019)
Anthony Collamati and David Haynes’ short entry is more of a drama fantasy than horror at the end of the day. It’s a unique albeit bizarre tale about a woman learning about the pitfalls and wonders of venturing out in to the world, and what path she’ll ultimately take. Elise is a work at home woman who finds a mountain climber frozen on her front lawn. The discovery prompts a series of visions involving mountain climbers from the past that causes her to think about her life, and how little she’s accomplished. Especially when an older man keeps coming back to the house to ask about the frozen mountain climber. “Base Camp” isn’t a great short, but it is touching and thought provoking in its own unusual way.

Bathroom Troll (2019)
Aaron Immediato’s revenge chiller is kind of silly and doesn’t do a whole lot with its premise in the end. Opening like “Carrie,” young Cassie is tormented by high school bullies that beat her up in the bathroom and mock her with tampons. Cassie’s mother, a witchcraft practitioner, invokes a vicious troll to strike down the various girls whenever they go to the bathroom. Anxious to stop the carnage before it escalates, Carrie seeks a way to stop the troll. Filled with over the top performances, a predictable ending, and some weird twists, I was never sure if “Bathroom Troll” was a satire of “Carrie” or was playing it with a straight face.

Boléro (2019)
Sarah Gross’s science fiction film is one I hope is turned in to a feature very soon. This shot is centered on a fascist dystopia where the fascist government uses telepaths to read people’s thoughts and destroy dissent. After her father is viciously murdered, young deaf and mute Maya grows up to be a freedom fighter. While infiltrating a dinner attended by head telepath Reader 8, she’s taken in and decides to enact revenge on him and his army. “Boléro” is a great short with wonderful sleek direction, top notch fight choreography, and great performances all around. Jonathan Medina is deliciously slimy as the villainous Reader 8 who takes great sadistic pleasure in mentally torturing his prisoners. Despite having no dialogue, Larsen Thompson is excellent as Maya, a young woman with her own surprises who proves to be a force of nature. I hope we can see more from Sarah Gross very soon.

Ding Dong (2019)
Suki-Rose’s dark comedy is a bizarre short harping on the artificial relationships we keep and the never ending loop one woman is in. Living in a very well decorated house, Leigh meets with her friend Heleen who spends their meeting chatting endlessly about nothing. Compelled to end her near relentless nonsense, she slaps Heleen. Suffice to say, Heleen’s reaction is not what Leigh expected, and she begs Heleen to hit her back. “Ding Dong” is ambiguous, but it feels like a picture perfect look in to a woman considering all of her options for shutting her annoying friend up and considering the consequences. It’s entertaining and darkly funny.

Wakey Wakey (2019)
Although only three minutes in length, “Wakey Wakey” is a surreal and bizarre comedy about a young girl who is experiencing anxiety about packing for travel. Along the way she dreams about an inactive boyfriend, and the need to pack enormously for a trip she’s not prepared for. “Wakey Wakey” is a bizarre short with a hilarious final scene that perfectly punctuates how some dreams can be so realistic it’s hard to mentally snap out of our state.

Fantastic Fest runs from September 19th to September 26th.